So many of us struggle to find the perfect balance in daily life with work and family, finding time for yourself, friends, pets, exercise and maybe a hobby or two. Our guest blogger, triathlete Mel Brunker, knows all too well the juggling act of work life balance. Apart from the things we all manage daily, she has four kids to consider and her first Ironman triathlon on the horizon. Below she offers her wisdom on how she gets it done with tips that might just help you find the perfect balance so you can kick some fitness goals!
I get asked this question so many times how do I juggle working, parenting, training and still smile (hmmmm, not all the time)? Im not 100% sure I do it successfully, but Im giving it my best!
With a little over 12 weeks to go on my journey to Cairns Ironman, the balance between training, work and family can be quite a juggle. Trying to fit my training in between school hours, my own work, netball and soccer training and games, and a husband who is busy with work and also training for an Ironman, can be quite a challenge.
Firstly, everybody needs to JUGGLE life. You might be juggling the same amount as me or maybe even more! Everyone has excuses, and reasons not to exercise. I know I could come up with a lot just now as I contemplate my alarm going off at 5am so how do I do it and fit all the training in and have a semi functioning family?
Its always important to remember that we are training for and/or competing in races for fun. For most of us it is a hobby, and a means of keeping fit and healthy, so keeping it all in perspective is extremely important, but here are a few things that I think are key to juggling family and a busy training schedule:
1.Work with a Coach
In my opinion, one of the crucial parts of training for an Ironman is working with a coach who truly understands your fitness level, physiology, injury history, availability to train, and also understanding exactly what your goals are. Having a coach also takes the stress out of having to write your own programme and wondering if you're actually going to achieve what you want to achieve. I have found having a plan of what you do on each day, means that it is easier to make it a priority in your day. Plan in advance when you will train, and do it no excuses!
2. Get up early
I used to hate getting up early, but it is now a necessity. Early morning training sessions, means the training is done for the day. This means a lot of indoor sessions for me, so make sure you have some good movies or TV series ready to go!
3.Enlist help whenever you can!
Whether it be someone driving your kids to their sport one week, or a neighbour taking them to school, every spare minute counts.
4.Plan in Advance
Run through your training programme for the week with your partner, and make sure they know what you need to do and when you plan to do it. I have found that although I need to be relatively flexible having 4 children who often forget to tell you really important things, like they are going on school camp tomorrow! Having a weekly plan really helps to maintain a relatively smooth routine.
5.Plan ahead for Dinners
This would be one of my biggest challenge! For starters, I dont love cooking, so often forget about the fact that there are going to be 5 hungry people other than myself to feed! Being fairly time poor, I dont have hours to spend in the kitchen. I am trying to get in to the habit of cooking a few meals on the weekend or on a quieter week day, so that when I do run out of time, I usually have something frozen that can be reheated for dinner.
6. Involve the kids in training
One of the reasons I do this is to encourage my kids to be active healthy little people. Weekends usually mean long training sessions, but it can be easy to include them. Long runs can be done with kids on bikes in tow, they can carry your water and chat to you, meet the family at the end of a long ride or run with a picnic BBQ. Simple strength programmes can be done with the kids at home in the backyard.
7.Keep training social
One of the best things about Ironman training I have found is the friendships I have formed along the way. The long 6 hour training rides are so much better done with a group of like minded people who have the same or similar goals. Getting up at 4am is much easier if you know that you have a group of people that will be waiting for you to turn up, or that if you dont turn up, you will let them down and miss your opportunity to get that session done with friends.
What are some of your tips and tricks for managing a work life balance and fitting your training in whatever your fitness goals might be ?
Stay tuned for more updates from Mel offering her tips and experiences on her journey to her bucket-list event Ironman Cairns! You can follow Mel on Instagram @mel.brunker and read her last blog post about her tips for Race Recovery & Prevention here.